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After two years in the making, Ste. Ellie, the subterranean speakeasy from the owners of Colt & Gray, finally opened in November. The sexy ivory space (pictured), exceptionally well-crafted cocktails, and hospitable bartenders bring new meaning to the phrase “all good things come to those who wait.”
On a recent frosty night, the watering hole was packed with other cocktail lovers, yet there wasn’t the slightest air of intimidation at the door. My husband and I were quickly seated at a petite, circular two-top where we perused a thoughtful menu of libations and snacks. Beverage director Kevin Burke and his team—Matty Durgin (Steuben’s, Adrift), Ryan Conklin (Euclid Hall, Old Major), and Kaitlin Jones (Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn)—put together an opening menu that includes classics, but emphasizes quirky house cocktails. Take the Stupid & Clever, which features Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Laird’s apple brandy, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters. All of the drinks are labeled with two straightforward icons: One that indicates whether the tipple is stirred or shaken; and another that shows whether to expect it in a coupe, collins glass, or double old fashioned. (In the case of the Tiki Secret—an off-menu regular’s favorite—expect a tall, white, plastic sea salt canister.) The list of snacks and small plates from chef Jenna Hodges offers items such as curried corn nuts, octopus a la plancha, and duck poutine with green peppercorn gravy. But it is the trotter terrine, beef tongue pastrami, and other meats hung in Colt & Gray’s new, dedicated charcuterie kitchen that are not to be missed.
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Sneak Peek: 5280 recently nabbed a preview of the cocktails that Burke will debut next week on the “Sophomore Menu.” For round two, Ste. Ellie will serve an in-vogue Sherry Sherry Daq Daq, which is a combination of manzanilla sherry, Drambuie, lime, and sage-scented honey syrup; and the Premature Direction, which features a broken milk punch of hibiscus- and green-tea-infused vodka combined with 170-degree milk and citric acid before the mixture is strained. In addition, Burke will pour the Rural Juror, which mixes El Dorado five-year rum, Zucca rhubarb amaro, Bénédictine, lime, and coffee bitters. “Zucca…has a specific earthiness that reminds me of chicory root and New Orleans coffee,” Burke says. “It’s this sense-memory that created this cocktail.” I, for one, can’t wait to create more memories of my own at Ste. Ellie.
1553 Platte St., 303-477-1447
—Image courtesy of Ryan Conklin, Ste. Ellie